BEACH VACATION IDEAS
10 Beautiful Beach Town Bargains for Fall
From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from New England to Southern California, America’s beaches stay open long after Labor Day. It’s the same sun and surf—oh, except the crowds are gone and hotel rates have come back down to earth.
The lines for the roller coaster and zeppoli are way shorter in September!
Point Pleasant is, well, pleasant enough in summer if you enjoy being part of a major scene, rubbing elbows with in-the-know New Yorkers, Philadelphians, and Jersey girls and boys who love Jenkinson's Boardwalk and the lovely stretch of beach here. But come September, the rides stay open, the cotton candy is just as sweet, but rates for hotel rooms just a block from the beach can be literally a third of the summer price.
Where to eat: Woodchucks BBQ (3009 Lakewood Rd., woodchucksbbq.com, half-slab of baby back ribs with cornbread and two sides $14).
Where to stay: The White Sands (1205 Ocean Ave., thewhitesands.com, from $130).
Get there: Point Pleasant is about 70 miles south of New York City and about 75 miles northeast of Philadelphia.
Old-timey seaport in the Pacific Northwest
We love the harbor and the foodie scene in this Victorian-era Olympic coast seaport, which was one of our Coolest Small Towns last year. A sea kayaker's dream town, Port Townsend also boasts nearby mountains for hiking and biking, and is an especially great place to cast for fish.
Where to eat: Fins Coastal Cuisine (1019 Water St., finscoastal.com, wild cod fish-and-chips with hand-cut garlic fries, field greens, and tarragon tartar sauce $16).
Where to stay: Chevy Chase Beach Cabins (7310 South Discovery Rd., chevychasebeachcabins.com, from $150 through September, from $110 October through May).
Get there: Port Townsend is about 56 miles northwest of Seattle, but set aside two hours for the drive, along winding coastal highways. From Victoria, B.C., take a two-hour ferry ride to Port Angeles, Wash., then drive 47 miles east.
You can't go any farther—or ask for a more beautiful location—down the East Coast
Well-known as one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite locales—with a party reputation to match—this gorgeous spot at the waaaaaaaaaay bottom of the U.S.'s East Coast boasts a much wider variety of activities, including tours of Victorian homes, nature kayaking, and unique art galleries. Sunset-watching here is not mandatory, but thoroughly recommended. No matter how cliché, it never gets old.
Where to eat: B.O.'s Fish Wagon (801 Carolina St., 305/294-9272, grouper sandwich $13,50).
Where to stay: Parrot Key Hotel & Resort (2801 North Roosevelt Blvd, parrotkeyresort.com, from $131
Get there: Key West is 161 miles southwest of Miami.
Parkland and board shorts at the very end of Long Island's East End
Sure, this dreamy beach town at the tip of New York's Long Island has gone a bit more upscale over the years, with some classic motels closing and serious eateries moving in. But with only 17 square miles bounded by water and 40 percent of the land devoted to state and county parkland, this place is still pretty wild, and one stop at the Ditch Plains beach and its surfing scene will make you feel as if you've traveled back to the days when trekking the 100+ miles from NYC kept most folks away.
Where to eat: The Crow's Nest (4 Old Westlake Dr., crowsnestmtk.com, mezze platter, including hummus, babaganoush, tabouli, olives, and pita $22).
Where to stay: Ocean Beach Resort (108 South Emerson Ave., oceanbeachmontauk.com, from $178).
Get there: Montauk is about 110 miles from Manhattan.
A hoppin' main street in paradise
For some people, the words "beautiful beach" and Maui are synonymous, and it's difficult to argue. But you'll also find a beautiful town—Hawaii's former capital, Lahaina—on the unparalleled island, with one of the U.S.'s most thriving main streets, the result, in part, of the 19th century whaling industry, for which Lahaina served as something of an unofficial capital as well. Nearby Kaanapali Beach, mountains you can almost reach out and touch, and a tranquil harbor make Lahaina a perfect town for kicking back.